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Articles / Majors & Careers / Experiencing Imposter Syndrome As A Woman in Computer Science

Experiencing Imposter Syndrome As A Woman in Computer Science

P Written by Possible Dreams, Possible Paths | June 9, 2021

For Megan, confidence came from seeing other girls and women pursuing computer science

"Being in an environment where you are very conscious that you're different from others, makes it a little bit more difficult to wanna go to class...It makes me feel like, maybe I'm not really cut out to be a computer science major. Maybe I'm in the wrong major."

Watch the video and real the full transcript below

"I don't know if I really am supposed to be here, right? I think I have a lot of imposter syndrome when I'm surrounded by a lot of people that are in computer science, because I don't feel like I fit in. I have a lot of self doubt, so, like, one being an imposter in the industry. And also not being able to balance expectations as a woman working in computer science.

My name is Megan, and I live in Cranbury, New Jersey.

My parents are both immigrants from Taiwan. And so my brother and I are the first generation born in the US. So my parents are both really traditional. So in traditional Asian culture, it's usually the female that stays at home and takes care of the kids. And they're really stay at home moms. I think for me they have an expectation for me to still get good grades and to still do well in school. But they eventually want me to marry and stay at home and take care of the kids. Cook and clean, a lot more housewife, really like housework."

Can you share a challenge you’ve faced and how it shaped you?

"So when I first started learning computer science, I saw there are a lot of women in my classes. In my entry level classes. I think it's a new thing, right? It's a new industry that a lot of people are really interested in. And so, entry level classes, a lot of people are studying it. And then as we get to higher level classes, I see a lot of women drop out of the classes.

And it's kind of just me and a couple other women, and then we're surrounded by a group of guys. And I think trying to take those high level classes when you don't see people that are like yourselves, makes it a little bit discouraging. And being in an environment where you are very conscious that you're different from others, makes it a little bit more difficult to wanna go to class. [LAUGH] It makes me feel like, maybe I'm not really cut out to be a computer science major. Maybe I'm in the wrong major."

What keeps you motivated?

"When I saw a group of boys in high school, knowing they were typing away super quickly, and they knew exactly this is what they wanted to do. I was really nervous to be that odd one out. And be honest about not knowing what it is that it was. I didn't know what computer science was at the time. So I think that experience turned me off from wanting to study computer science earlier on. And there was another program where I was part of that community of women.

So Girls Who Code was what really made me feel comfortable being in a community where I saw that a lot of people were similar to me. They were all a little bit shy. Not really sure if this is something that they would want to pursue and actively want to learn more about. And that environment made me feel a lot more comfortable, and it kinda gave me my first surge for computer science.

I definitely think it's something that a lot of my female friends who are taking computer science, I think that's something that a lot of us feel. And I think that's also why it's so important to have a community that you can fall into. That you have when you are going through tough times, when you feel like you're the only one that's taking the computer science class."

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Possible Dreams, Possible Paths

Created through a partnership between educational nonprofit Roadtrip Nation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Possible Dreams, Possible Paths allows students to connect to stories and experiences from their peers, through video interviews centered around topics like mental health, plans beyond high school, social issues, family and responsibilities.

Explore the website for more inspiring, real-life stories and resources for students.

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